The presumptive U.S. Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, was obviously not including Latin America when he launched his “Let's make America great again” slogan, instead his racist comments about Latin American immigrants living in the U.S. have only served to anger Latinos and Latin American countries alike.
Although the New York billionaire has yet to outline his foreign policy in detail regarding most countries of the Northern Hemisphere, his labeling of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug-dealers, already speaks volumes about what can be expected from a Trump presidency.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said at the very beginning of his campaign in June, 2015. “They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Latin American immigrants were estimated to number around 11.3 million in 2014.
In regards to the “rapists,” he explicitly generalized to the whole region, saying, “It’s coming from more than Mexico ... It’s coming from all over South and Latin America.”
Trump also has said that the Mexican government deliberately exports its criminals to the U.S., and should therefore assume the entire costs for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He promised to round up and deport the millions of undocumented immigrants now in the U.S.
Trump has also promised to abolish birthright citizenship for those whose parents are undocumented, meaning that children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents, would not receive automatic citizenship, as all other children do.
Mexican Minister of the Interior, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said, “the remarks by Donald Trump seem prejudicial and absurd,” adding that “”he surely doesn’t know the contributions made by migrants from practically every nation in the world, who have supported the development of the United States.”
Other Latin American governments have voiced their rejection of a Trump administration, including Peru's conservative president-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who warned that his government would sever ties with the Washington if Trump were elected president, saying "we're going to grab a saw and cut them (relations) off".
Leaders such as Ecuador's President Rafael Correa believes that Latin America's progressive movements would only grow stronger if the billionaire were to win the White House, galavinizing the left against his far right policies.
Trump has said he is against the Cuban Adjustment Act that allows any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil to remain in the country legally and apply for residency immediately. This is not based, however, on making immigration easier for everyone, but instead on making immigration harder for all Latin Americans across the board.
“You have people that have been in the system for years (waiting to migrate to the United States), and it’s very unfair when people who just walk across the border, and you have other people that do it legally.”
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Similarly, Trump's opposition against the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership is far from being an altruistic move for the benefit of Latin American workers harshly affected by these neoliberal trade agreements.
Latinos make up around 17 percent of the U.S. population, making them a critical voting bloc in what is expected to be a tight race between Trump and the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
In the last election in 2012, Latinos constituted 10 percent of the electorate and voted for President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 71 to 27 percent, according to an analysis of exit polls by the Pew Hispanic Center.